Willing + Wanted
- Age: 27 /
- Born: St. John's
- OCCUPATION: First Officer, Maersk. Navigation and Safety duties aboard the Maersk Beater. /
- Hours: 12 hours a day. 28-day turn around on the vessel, and off. /
- Salary: $110,000 or more, depending on the operation/hours.
“A lot of the old ways of doing things is being phased out,” says Phillips. “There is a lot of new technology to improve the safety of navigation ... even paper charts [are] secondary. We still use them. Electronics are used more.”
Landed the job
Came up through Sea Cadets, enrolled in the Nautical Science program at Marine Institute. Completed work term at Maersk and hired after graduating. “I brought down my resume and [they] obviously saw that I had so much training with their company, they hired me on.”
“We work for the rig,” says Phillips, “Anything they want, we will bring for them.” While the Maersk Beater sails, Officer Phillips is one of the people who makes sure the vessel arrives safely. She watches sea traffic from the bridge out to offshore oil sites. She steers, maneuvers and controls navigation, particularly important during fishing seasons and ice seasons. She is also responsible for all fire and safety equipment on the vessel, making sure it’s up to date, if it requires maintenance, and ensures it’s kept in accordance with international seafaring regulations.
Rent, RSPs, basic life expenses.
“I love the job. I love what my job details and my responsibilities. And I have a good crew, which makes it a lot better because we are away for 28 days.”
“Being away for six months of the year is a hard thing, says Phillips. “We do have internet, so you can keep in contact with friends and family. There becomes an understanding between friendships and relationships. You know they’re gone, but you’re not always forgotten, but you know you go home and you always pick it up where you left off.”
“I’m in the middle of buying a home so that a good way to start spending my money.”
Work up the chain of command with Maersk. Be a captain one day.
WHAT THE BOSS SAYS
Not only is Phillips the youngest member of the Maersk Beater’s 12-person crew, she’s also the only female on board.
“I was a bit hesitant at first,” says Riggs, “A lady on board, what it would do, but it’s working out really well.”
He says she now plays a vital role on board. “She’ll tell us what it is. Whether it’s right or wrong or when we need to hold back,” he says with a laugh. But when it comes to the job, “She’s very creative in doing the seriousness of the operation.”
To become an officer takes years of training and study, but Riggs says there is lots of room in the industry for new grads. “The younger the better,” he says, "Because they are our next generation."
“We are all getting older and we need someone to replace us, whether it’s a girl or a man. And in today’s society we got to be equal, whatever generation, whatever gender it is.”
Music makes it better
Riggs agrees with Phillips that the big draw to working on a ship is being away from home for weeks at a time. “Some of the younger people they can’t handle being away if they don’t have a cell phone, if they don’t have internet, satellite TV, that’s going to discourage them.”
He says having a music room on board makes the experience a lot more enjoyable. “Here we are fortunate to have musically-inclined people and when you hear the music being heard everyone will go to the area and play along or sing along and it brings the team together.”
Riggs says there is lots of work within the industry. He says Maersk has a program to train engineering and nautical cadets. “If accepted, they get work after completing the program.”